A special service was held at St Hugh’s Church in Banbury to install new vicar, the Rev Anita Smith.
Mrs Smith was installed by the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Rev Colin Fletcher OBE, at a service on March 18 with members of the congregation, neighbourhood and town also present.
Born and educated in Surrey, Mrs Smith set out on the long road to ministry via teaching, which included challenging work in a south east London comprehensive teaching, among others, students with learning difficulties.
This was followed by volunteer teaching in Kenya where the Christian Missionary Society cared for girls in a rural environment with only basic services. All water had to be collected from rain storms.
Returning to the UK and with brief spells at Lee Abbey and Trinity College Bristol, Anita served as a deacon in Forrest Hill and held a curacy in Bermondsey.
However, Kenya beckoned again and she took up a chaplaincy at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi. Time out in South Africa provided a valuable pause in her life and enabled her husband Colin to work on a book about divided cities.
Brian Little, St Hugh’s churchwarden, said: “Now back in the UK, her aspiration is to seize the opportunity to settle into a community of which she, Colin and daughters Sheila and Sandie can feel a part. St Hugh’s congregation looks forward to fulfilling these hopes.”